Kings: The Goalie Mess

By Tony Calfo
While the season has been a success for the Los Angeles Kings, there has been one area where the Kings may not have played their cards correctly. That is at the goaltender position.

Earlier in the season I wrote an article calling for a Jamie Storr trade. While this may not have been the best move, the alternative could not have been. Firstly, Storr has been at the heart of the Kings hot streak of late. Through Stephane Fiset’s injury, Storr has played well offering the big saves that never seem to come when Stephane Fiset is in the pipes. Jamie still has the lapses that have plagued him his entire career, but his record is much better than Fiset’s and he is much more likely to dominate a game that Stephane. Storr also remains injury prone and while he is getting better, he still is shaky handling the puck. All in all, Storr has proven himself to be the number one goalie. That may be the bad news.

Stephane Fiset started out on fire. Fiset was en route to a career year before signing his big money contract. He hasn’t done much since. Since signing that deal, Fiset has had two significant injuries that cost him several games and he has been shaky during crunch time- seldom coming up with a save that could turn the tides in a close game. A fragile hand and groin may have contributed, but Fiset’s problems started well before either of these took place. This is where the problem lies. The Kings are facing expansion with two goalies. These are two goalies whose value has plummeted. Despite Storr’s strong play, he did have the east coast swing where they allowed over 8 goals in one game (along with Fiset). If the Kings protect both goalies, they will lose one of their solid defensemen. I couldn’t pick one of their top five young defensemen I would trade for either of the goalies. If Storr is exposed, his low salary and young age would assure him of being the top pick in the expansion draft. If Fiset is exposed, his large salary may scare off some teams who are not going to sink alot of money into a goalie that will only get them a few wins due to poor talent surrounding him. If that was part of Dave Taylor’s plan then I hope he will not let the high salary of his back up goalie preclude the Kings from signing free agents.

The bottom line is the entire NHL is referring to the Kings as a team with promise but no heart in the crease. I still think Storr will be a great NHL goalie, but Fiset’s recent demise has hurt Jamie. Now they are shaky in goal with two netminders who have dwindling confidence. Alexey Volkov is still a couple years away, so the Kings face an interesting conundrum. Unfortunately, the result is an expansion draft that should kick the Kings squarely in the pipes- one way or another.